Reviews of recent library haul

My heart did a little happy dance during a recent trip to the library when I saw the sign annoucning a reprise of the season of double borrowing allowance.

So I allowed myself to pick more novels than usual (since more than 2 would usually eat in too much into the kiddy book quota) now that we could borrow up to 36 (impossible to carry) now!

The branch I visited had limited copies of titles by the authors I loved, and I had borrowed all those already. And the library still hadn’t stocked titles that I’ve been hounding them to, so it was gonna be a bit of a lucky draw that day.  I try to go for books that’ve won / been nominated for an award, since it minimises the chance of it being trashy rubbish. Turns out I ended up with a bit of a mixed bag.   Shall share my reviews whilst the four I just chomped through in the past fortnight are still relatively fresh in my mind.

Began with Tinkers, which I borrowed because the cover carried a soundbite by Marilynn Robinson, and because it sounded (and the cover looked) a tad Christmasy.  Turned out it was not quite.
A bit draggy (guess I shouldn’t have been surprised since M Robinson could be a little like that too, so prob that’s why she liked his windy prose), but the few gems (passages that were really evocative) made up for it.  Some gripping story-telling of hardship and the pain and love of a father-son relationship, but wish there was more of that and less of the stream of consciousness stuff.

Next I read Alys, Always, which turned out to be my favourite of the lot.  I picked it because it was set in the UK, and I love reading English fiction, since it always associates with good memories. This was un-putdownable, and I spent many of my spare moments musing about the protagonist.  For all her dowdy unobstrusiveness, she turns out to be the most conniving person ultimately, however unintentional it might have genuinely been at the start.  She bided her time, and things panned out in her favour in the end, unlikely as it seemed it would.  The way that she entrenches herself for perpetuity at the sudden close of the book is particularly stunning.
Moral of the story – good things come to those who wait?  Silently plot, take a gamble when the opportunity finally comes, and you could be mistress of all you ever dreamed of? It also offered great insight to the minds of those “quiet” people, who do hold very cynical and loud opinions that are seldom enunciated and thus seldom associated with such personalities – lesson? Underestimate them at your peril.  Well-worth a read, and prime candidate for book club discussions.

Borrowed this mainly cos it was a very clean, new book (haha!) and the blurb at the back made it seem like a fun read.  It’s a novel translated from French, about siblings on a roadtrip.  Turned out to be a bit whimsical, a bit strange, but a heart-warming characterisation of the special bonds between siblings, poignant in its rendering of how the older two weathered their parents’ divorce as toddlers huddled together on the stairs above, sucking their thumbs in the dark, as Mummy and Daddy warred downstairs, unaware of their audience.  The younger two were too little to recall a thing but had their own take on their father’s eventual disappearance.  Interesting, but not something I’d recommend.
I just finished this book this morning.  Borrowed it cos it won three book awards, but it was SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO boring even though it was not long.  Okay, some parts were interesting in that it provided a glimpse into the 1939 war from a Russian – Finnish perspective, but for the most part I couldn’t wait for it to end. It’s written with a bit of the ‘banality of evil’ detachment and makes points about the fragility / strength of the human spirit vs body, but the dry writing didn’t captivate.

Read anything good recently? Do share!  Always prefer to read recommendations than going for lucky dips. : )

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